I have been so busy with everything lately that I haven’t had a chance to update the blog for a while. I just thought to write a little story about how the weaning process went with our daughter around her 3rd birthday. A user’s comment reminded me to post this story since I had posted about breastfeeding her prior.
When our daughter’s 3rd birthday was approaching, I started to feel like I was done with the whole breastfeeding process. It sounds horrible to say that but I just felt emotionally and physically done. Since I was starting to resent some of the breastfeeding moments, I realized that it was time to wean. I know it was going to take a lot of patience and time so I wasn’t stressing over it.
I started off by telling her that she was a big girl now and that nursing is for babies only. Babies that can’t yet eat real foods, need mommy’s milk and now that she was a big girl she didn’t need mommy’s milk anymore. I would remind her of that at every nursing. Not pushing the issue but just gently reminding her. Then I told her that it was starting to hurt me because my body wasn’t producing much milk anymore since she was not a baby anymore. I told her that we would count to 10 while she nursed and that would be it. I was suprised that she understood the whole concept and would always stop at the count of ten with no protest. Slowly over the course of couple of weeks, I would count to 8 then 6 and so on. Finally we were done with the counting part. I also avoided the situations/places that reminded her of nursing such as her favorite place on the couch etc. I made sure I was on my feet most of the day. She kind of forgot about breastfeeding because I kept myself up and her busy.
Nap times were the hardest. She had relied on nursing to go to sleep for her naps so I started to drive her around during her nap time. It took some time and effort but it worked. At night time she would fall asleep cuddling with me instead of nursing which was great. Right before she turned 3, I bought her a special big girl gift for celebrating the fact that she growing up and not needing nursing anymore. It was a special doll and it made her feel like a big girl. I also baked her a cake and we celebrated her growing up. Then her birthday was shortly after that.
I was so surprised that the weaning process was relatively easy and she never cried about it. I would find other ways to sooth her and most of the time it was her cuddling with me and falling asleep with me. I felt sad but also relieved when she was done nursing. Now that months have passed after that, we sometimes talk about it and she laughs about it. We talk about her nursing her baby once she is a grown up. I thought that she would never wean since she relied on nursing so heavily but I guess she was ready to wean, she just needed some help in the process. I know many women nurse past 3 years of age, personally that is my limit though. I can’t go past 3 years of age. I know every mother is different. It’s just how I feel. I’m now pregnant with baby number 3 and I’m interested in seeing how breastfeeding will go with this one. It will be a whole another journey and I’m excited to go through it once again.
There is nothing better in the world than having your 2-year-old give you a big hug and say “I love you” right before starting to nurse. The love that you are giving to your child from birth starts to show back once the baby matures and breastfeeding certainly helps with creating that special bond with your child. I remember when I had our first born and thought I was going to breastfeed him for a year because I thought that is what you are suppose to do. Our pediatrician, Dr. William Sears, was kind enough to explain the benefits of extended breastfeeding to me and open my eyes to the idea of child led weaning. It totally made sense to me. I was a working mom at the time as well so nursing after a long day at work really helped me to reconnect with my child and he looked forward to it also.
Our daughter is 2 now and in the so called “terrible twos” phase. Breastfeeding really helps to calm her down if she gets upset and gives her a moment to wind down. This has been really helpful at restaurants and other public places. I use a nursing cover with her when we are out and about. I never used a cover with our son but after discovering a nursing cover and how convenient it is when you are breastfeeding in public, I highly recommend one. It’s not matter of having to hide your breastfeeding, to me it’s more like having my own privacy and our daughter likes it too because it shields her from the outside distractions and gives her a moment of peace as well. Now that she is older she asks for the cover if we are in public places and she wants to nurse. It’s so cute that she associates that with public places and knows that we don’t use one at home unless there are other kids around such as our older son’s friends who might have not been exposed to nursing at home.
I’m forever grateful to Dr. Sears for helping me to realize the benefits of extended breastfeeding. Now I wouldn’t have it any other way. Each child matures at different rates so the time they wean varies. Our son self weaned at 2 ½ years of age, right after he potty trained himself. He was a big boy now and didn’t need/want breastfeeding anymore. It was the most joyful yet sad day of my life because my baby had grown up to be a little man of his own who knew what he wanted. Now at 7 years of age, he is the same way. He is extremely confident and social and caring child. He always wants to make sure people around him are ok. He helps the children at school who might not be considered “popular” so that they don’t get left alone. He is also so kind, caring and affectionate with his little sister and he knows how important breastfeeding is for his little sister. I contribute all this to extended breastfeeding and the strong foundation he got in the early years of life.
I’m interested in seeing how long our daughter will breastfeed. At times she tells us that she is too big to breastfeed but wants it still at the same time. It’s so cute to see her journey growing up and how she is thinking about being a big girl all on her own. Until she self weans, I’m cherishing these moments of nursing. I even cherish the night time nursings because it’s our special time together. Her little arms are wrapped around my body and she is so content. After nursing, she goes right to sleep and I lay down next to her. I feel so content knowing that I’m helping her to grow up day and night and I help her sort through her feelings during these sometimes difficult times of being a 2-year old by breastfeeding.
I just finished reading an article in the February edition of the BabyTalk magazine about mixing breast and bottle feeding. The article makes it sound like it’s no big deal which is completely bogus and made me so upset. It appears to me that the whole idea of this article is to make it easier for moms not to feel “guilty” about bottle feeding and not wanting to breastfeed exclusively. In my opinion the reasons for why a woman chooses a bottle over breast is because they haven’t received the proper support from the beginning as to how to breastfeed and what should be expected. I’ve delivered 2 babies and I have to say that the hospital staff in both cases (2 different hospitals) varied tremendously on their knowledge about breastfeeding. Unfortunately I don’t have the confidence that the staff in the hospitals around the US really is adequately equipped to support a woman who wants to exclusively breastfeed due to constant push by the formula companies with free formula samples etc.
The article also talks about how nice it is for the dad to be able to give an occasional bottle and how that’s good for bonding. The fact is that a woman was created with the ability to breastfeed not a man and for that reason alone, the mother is the primary care taker for a long time by nature. The father has several years to work on the bonding with the baby and one bottle here or there won’t help that bonding. It just confuses the baby who is looking for the mother and the breast to give him comfort. I’ve also heard that some women like it when the dad can do some of the night time feedings etc. The unfortunate fact is that having children is not easy and it was not meant to be easy so if a woman is not ready to have several sleepless nights, then maybe she is not ready for a baby. The time when a newborn needs a constant closeness and mother to feed every hour or so is so little in the child’s life that it certainly should not be a reason for a mother to choose to give a bottle especially one that has formula in it.
Now there are times when breastfeeding doesn’t start off the right way and a woman is forced to pump and bottle feed while trying to work on improving the breastfeeding situation. This actually happened to me with our second even though I considered myself to be a pro at it after nursing one child for 2 1/2 years. I had to pump and work really hard to get my baby to learn to breastfeed. It was difficult but all worth it. Everything worked out great due to wonderful support and guidance I received from a lactation consultant (Susan at Dr. Sears’ office).
When a mother returns to work, the baby obviously has to receive bottles during the day when the mother is at work but as long as this happens later in the baby’s life, it won’t affect the breastfeeding as much. The fact that women are expected to return to work at 6 weeks post-partum speaks to the problem we have in America and the lack of general awareness and knowledge about breastfeeding. A 6 week-old baby is not ready to be “weaned” from his mother during the day to be bottle fed by someone other than the mother. This is great rule for the formula manufactures because so many women won’t even bother trying to pump at work especially if they are not given a proper place and time to do it during the work day. I’m a working mother so I know first hand what it’s like to work and pump at work and juggle the pumping and breastfeeding. It might sound like a lot but it’s an investment you are making for your child’s future and it’s all worth it. Going back to work is no reason to quit breastfeeding and for sure is no reason to not to breastfeed from birth knowing that the mother will be going to work. Sharing those special moments after work while breastfeeding your baby makes all the difference in the world and helps the mother and baby to bond and take back some lost time. The bottom line is that I wish the society would be more pro-breastfeeding and the health care professionals would be more educated about breastfeeding and how to encourage and help mothers to succeed with breastfeeding. It’s proven to be way superior to formula in all the levels imaginable (nutrition, IQ, mental development etc) yet the formula companies have such a hold on the general public that more women choose the formula over convenient and free breastmilk just because they don’t know any better or are brainwashed to think there is no harm of giving bottles of formula to babies. Articles like this mentioned earlier also speaks to how the American public is conditioned to think this way. Since I’m from Finland I can say that the mentality there is very different and working mothers are being supported very differently than here in the US to assure that the mother and baby get off in a good start and can share what nature intended for mothers and babies.
This is a topic that comes up frequently with newborns. Almost every newborn has a case of jaundice and the decree can very a lot from baby to baby. Our firstborn had a mild jaundice but out second baby have a severe jaundice due to she would not breastfeed enough to help with the elimination process of the extra red blood cells. We had to do the billirubin blankets which worked out great actually. They are a great treatment option for high bilirubin levels to assure the baby can come home from the hospital and the treatment can continue. The unfortunate fact about jaundice is that some pediatricians aren’t aware of the fact that unrestricted breastfeedings really help with the condition. Some doctors are quick to tell the mom to stop breastfeeding and switch to formula which is completely wrong advise. The reason for the formula push is many times the fact that the most “education” new pediatricians get regards to newborn feedings is from the formula manufactures and they are brain washed to think that formula is better for a baby than the mother’s breastmilk. Â Besides restricted feedings, indirect sunlight is a great treatment. Put the baby by a window to get some sunlight but be sure to keep an eye on the time. I also put our babies to direct sunlight just with their diaper on for 5 minutes both sides (front and back), no longer than that due to sunburn risk which is way worse than the jaundice. Now they have actually studied jaundice and come to find out that it can be a powerful antioxidant and prevent childhood cancers like leukemia. So it’s not as bad as originally thought. If your newborn gets jaundice be sure to continue breastfeeding as often as possible and if the baby is sleepy, which is typical with jaundice, be sure to wake the baby up to feed every 1 1/2 to 2 hours.Â
As a new parent, I had no idea what to expect about babies prior to our son being born other than what I had seen on TV or read in the books. I thought that babies sleep in their cribs and wake up to eat every once in a while but that’s about it. My husband and I went out and bought a crib before our son was born for him to sleep in. We put it in our bedroom instead of the nursery because I didn’t want to be so far from the baby. My idea of baby sleeping in a crib came to a halt very soon when 2 weeks into parenthood, I hadn’t slept more than an hour or 2 consecutively and I was completely out of it. I needed sleep badly. I took a friend’s suggestion and brought our son in the bed with us. For the first time, I could sleep! Our son was so peaceful there sleeping next to us. He would wake up to nurse but then go right back to sleep. I was still up many times a night because our son loved nursing but it didn’t affect me us much anymore because I still got more sleep and I didn’t even have to get out of bed to feed him. Gradually our son started to sleep longer but he really didn’t sleep through the night until he was about 3 years old and I was ok with that. I soon realized how important the night time was for our bonding and how I could share those special moments with him nursing in the quiet darkness. Now he is 6 years old and nothing wakes him up. It’s funny to think back of all the sleepless nights and how fast it went by. During that time it didn’t feel like fast but now looking back it does.Â
My advise to all new parents out there is to be prepared to be up several times a night with your baby. Babies have tiny stomachs so they do get up frequently to eat. Also breastmilk goes through the body quickly because it’s the best natural source of food therefore many breastfed baby’s nurse frequently. Another advantage of baby waking up several times a night is the prevention of SIDS. You don’t want Â a newborn who barely can manage their breathing patterns to be sleeping soundly through the night. Co-sleeping can help to prevent SIDS as well because it’s been studied that the parents’ breathing helps to regulate the baby’s immature breathing patterns while sleeping. Next time a good friend of yours asks if your 3 month old is sleeping through the night, just smile and think how much more you get to bond and share with your baby when you get the privilege of being a parent both day and night. Once you become a parent, you are a parent 24/7 so getting a full night of sleep, should be last on your list. You’ll have plenty of time to sleep when your child is older and regardless of what grandma or any other good meaning relative says, babies don’t sleep through the night and yours is no different and it’s not your fault. Now there are the magical 1% of babies that might sleep almost through the night naturally but that’s such a rare occasion that don’t count on your baby being one of them. I did soon find out that some babies truly are “easier” with night time sleeping patterns because our breastfed daughter at 18 mos does sleep through the night sometimes on her own even when she is sleeping next to me.Â
What do you do if your toddler or baby for that matter wants to constantly pinch you while nursing??? Buy or make a nursing necklace! I have no idea why I didn’t think about this before. Our daughter (18 mos) has always been a pincher during nursing since she was a little baby. It’s very annoying and try to hold her hand etc but it just doesn’t work very well. Now that she is a toddler she can “demand” her way such as pushing my hand out of the way etc. I purchased a few different nursing necklaces on the web and they seem to be the answer. Not only are the nursing necklaces good for nursing but they will last a long time as regular jewelry beyond the nursing years. I highly recommend either making your own necklace or buying one if you have a baby with a similar nursing personality as our daughter. Our son was so a very different nurser, he just liked to make sure that the other side was still there and then he would be content. It’s very common for babies to have different nursing personalities such as a patting the other side, touching mom’s hair, moving a leg etc.Â